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Meta Begins Testing Selling Tools in Horizon Worlds – Road to VR

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Meta announced today it is enabling new in-world monetization tools for a “handful” of creators in Horizon Worlds. The tools will allow them to sell access to items and experiences inside of the app. Eventually, Meta says, it hopes people can “earn a living” in the metaverse.

Horizon Worlds is Meta’s social VR platform built around user-generated content that anyone can build within the app itself. Though the platform remains available only to VR users older than 18 in the US and Canada, the company is moving ahead with testing the first in-world monetization tools which will allow creators to charge real money for things inside of Horizon Worlds.

The company says the tools will allow creators to “sell virtual items and effects,” and gives the example of someone selling an attachable accessory (like a hat) or an item that would grant access to an exclusive part of a world (like a special key).

Meta said the ability to sell items in Horizon Worlds is just a test for now, and while all users are able to make purchases, only a “handful of creators” are getting access to monetization tools for the time being. The company says it plans to iterate on the tools prior to expanding them to more creators, also saying that this is a first step toward its long-term vision of a “metaverse where creators can earn a living and people can purchase digital goods, services, and experiences.”

Meta didn’t offer many specifics on the functionality of the Horizon Worlds monetization tools. For instance, it isn’t clear how ownership will work (ie: once you buy an item can you take it anywhere on the platform, or does it only exist within a single world?), nor the mutability of purchased items (ie: if I buy access to a premium portion of a world, what happens if the creator chooses to alter or delete the world?).

The company also didn’t say if it will take a cut of the revenue generated by in-world purchases (like it does for apps sold on the Quest store).

We reached out to Meta for more details on these questions and more.

Beyond the Horizon Worlds monetization tools, Meta today also said it’s testing a Horizon Worlds Creator Bonus program for creators in the US. In addition to the $10 million fund the company formed to incentivize creators to start building in Horizon Worlds, the Creator Bonus program is focused around “goal-oriented monthly programs where the creators are paid out at the end of the month for their progress toward the goal.”

Ostensibly, goals will relate to metrics Meta deems useful to Horizon Worlds, like the number of visits to specific worlds, time spent in a specific world, return visitors, etc.

The company did not specify if the Creator Bonus program would be open to all creators or a select group.

Meta also says it recently launched an “entirely new analytics dashboard” for Horizon Worlds creators to give them more information about how people are engaging with their worlds.

Meta is far from the first to introduce monetization tools geared toward encouraging user-generated creation in VR.

Among others, social VR platform Rec Room introduced its first in-world monetization tools back at the end of 2020. The app allows creators to charge for items in the world to earn tokens which can be cashed out for real money. Similar to the Creator Bonus program, Rec Room has been offering incentives to draw creators to its platform, like a $15,000 matching bonus available to creators through 2023.

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